How Monica Barbaro Prepped For Top Gun

How Monica Barbaro Prepped For Top Gun

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How Monica Barbaro Prepped For Top Gun

From boot camp to fighter pilot.

From boot camp to fighter pilot.

Photography: Danielle Levitt

Styling: Christian Stroble

Text: SAMUEL ANDERSON

Monica wears all clothing Versace and jewelry Tiffany and Co.

Male-dominated institutions like the one at the center of the Top Gun movie franchise are notorious for grading on a curve. So one might assume that Monica Barbaro, who plays the lone female fighter pilot in this year’s Top Gun: Maverick, felt an added pressure even offscreen. But during an intense pre-production boot camp, the NorCal native’s edge became clear: “I never threw up!” she says, referring to a not-uncommon side effect among her male counterparts. Despite the year-long shoot requiring 35 hours of actual flight, per star and producer Tom Cruise’s emphasis on non-simulated dare-devilry, Barbaro remained dauntless. “It wasn’t scary,” she says. “I didn’t have any fear.” Which is not to say that she didn’t over-prepare—namely for the possibility of (gulp) an emergency ejection. “I did extra swim training because I was worried! I swam every other day for two months,” she says. The Top Gun squad was long overdue for female energy, with Maverick following the originally 34 years. Underscoring the glacial pace of progress is the fact that Barbaro, 29, never expected to play such a role. “I was like, ‘Oh, [I can]play one of the pilots!’ I hadn’t ever considered that to be an option,” she says. Still, she adds, she never let the specter of inequality impede her mission: “My being a woman soon took [a backseat] to just playing a fighter pilot.”

Credits: Makeup (Jeremy, Monica, Ciara) Homa Safar Makeup (Corey, Leslie, Judah) Stevie Huynh (Bryant Artists) Hair (Jeremy, Monica, Ciara) Anna Lyles (Atelier Management) Hair (Corey, Leslie, Judah) Matthew Tuozzoli (Saint Luke Artists) Production Stephanie Porto (Danielle Levitt Studio)Digital technicians Maria Noble, Bryan Solarski Lighting technicians Vinnie Maggio, Sebastian Keefe, Ross Zavoyna, Roxanne Hartridge Stylist assistants Kate Strand, Daniel Alvero Makeup assistant Rosie Sanchez Production assistant Tiffany D

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